Self-proclaimed Baby Name Guru, Bruce Lansky, is giving the name of Nicole Richie and Joel Madden’s new baby two thumbs down.
Sparrow James Midnight Madden just doesn’t do it for Lansky, who thinks “Sparrow” just isn’t masculine enough for a boy who will some day be a man. Here’s what he had to say in a press release issued shortly after the couple’s publicist released the name:
In short, Sparrow is not a name that conveys either a distinctive, attractive image or a clear masculine identity. In the gospel hymn “His eye is on the Sparrow,” the sparrow symbolizes one of God’s lesser creations: “His [Jesus'] eye is on the sparrow/ And I know he watches me.” Plus, if Richie and Madden had wanted to project a more masculine image—Captain Jack Sparrow, perhaps—they could have named their boy James Sparrow Midnight. Leading with Sparrow, however, it’s possible the boy may endure teasing on the playground and trouble in the dating field.
The Guru’s got a thing for clarifying gender. Lansky, author of the baby name book 5-Star Baby Name Advisor, didn’t like that Soleil Moon-Frye calls her second daughter “Jagger Blue,” both hinting at boyish-ness. In fact, he had to switch an up thumb to two down thumbs when he found out Frye was not naming a son, rather, a daughter.
Along those same lines, Lansky loves Sparrow’s older sister’s name, Harlow Kate Winter, because of the femininity, glamour and “attractiveness” it evokes.
Lansky praises Richie and Madden for adhering to another of the Guru’s naming conventions: sibling names that go together. Lansky disapproved, for example, of the unequal number of names bestowed on Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick’s twins — one got an extra, extra middle name! But he details the symmetry in the Madden kids’ quirky names:
-Three names: Sparrow James Midnight & Harlow Winter Kate.
-One uncommon two-syllable first name: Sparrow & Harlow.
-One name that describes the time/season of birth: Midnight & Winter.
-One sensible 5-star middle name the child can fall back on if the other two names bomb: James & Kate.
Another expert, weighing in over at Us magazine, digs deeper into the unexpected choice.
“It’s an interesting choice for a son because you really can’t tell if it’s a boy or a girl,” [Pamela Redmond Satran] says. “Something we’ve started to see is parents being much more open to giving their sons names that have a feminine feel or are unisex.”
… Midnight, like Harlow’s second name Winter, denotes a time or season, which is often found in African culture, Satran says. “Some of the earliest African names in the U.S. were Afternoon, Easter, Christmas and Friday,” she says. “You have to think there’s some pattern [with Harlow and Midnight].”
What do you think about the name Sparrow? This blogger is not terribly impressed.